Counter-Composition Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg (1883–1931), Counter-Composition VI 1925

It’s the last week of Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World at Tate Modern and so we’ve been looking back over the show before it leaves us. Since van Doesburg had a hand in or link to so many seminal movements of the early-twentieth-century (De Stijl, Dada, Constructivism, the Bauhaus), his influence has a contemporary reach, not only in visual art but in the wider visual field, including typography, design and architecture.

Reviews of the exhibition have focused on this influence on our contemporary visual world. Charles Darwent in the Independent on Sunday said:

“…the extraordinary impact Van Doesburg had on European art in the 1920s … was all to do with boundary-crossing and line-blurring, things so revolutionary that they still resonate today.”.

while Simon Mawer in the The Guardian commented:

“Painter, poet, critic, architect, of all the dimensions of his short life the most important one was … the influence that he had among the avant-garde of the 1920s, an artistic movement that has shaped our own world.”

Even Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph, who didn’t much like van Doesburg’s austerity, recognised his impact:

“Moreover, the influence of De Stijl on a number of disciplines, including film, architecture, design, and even typography is painstakingly spelled out.”

Van Doesburg is clearly a giant of design, but who is your design hero? Who has influenced your design practice or work? Who do you think has made the most impact on your visual world? Do you look back to one of van Doesburg’s contacts or rivals? Who working today do you think will be the van Doesburg of the 21st Century?


Jane Gibson

Joseph C. Lam is my design hero. He is a creative genious. His style is modern and he always brings warmth to every room. He creates many open spaces that bring energy into the design. Joseph is a brilliant businessman owning several companies. His passion is for design, from the conception to the finished product of each beautiful estate. His design website is, he is an inspiration to artists, builders, developers and homeowners. His style brings vintage and modern together to enrich the homes.

Esben Johansen

My design hero is Bruce Mau. His exhibition and book 'Massive Change' changed the way I think about design, it takes design to the next level and beyond. It doesn't only show that design and the arts of expressing ourselves is in our veins, but that it's magical and breathing. Bruce Mau made me understand the importance of design and that it can change the world for the better. That's Magic! :D

Bruce Mau is also the founder of 'Institute without Boundaries' who focuses on social, ecological and economic innovation, and sees the designer as a problem solver with the ability to effect positive change for humanity.


The way Jon Burgerman transforms a space is just Amazingly Brilliant!

Mark Kaufman

What makes a design hero? Is it the designer's affect on popular culture? Is it their influence on the art, craft and business of design? I suspect that for most people it's the individual whose work inspired them to pursue a career in design, sparked an interest in beauty and function, and continues to arouse a passion for creativity and a curiosity for the world around us.

In my case it is the designer Roy Kuhlman, best known in the U.S for his Grove Press covers of the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Kuhlman's work aroused my curiosity as much as the words between the book covers. He forced this schoolboy into finding out about Beckett and Genet, jazz and literature, art and theatre. That's a design hero.

Kathy Strube

My mother who started me off with colored crayons at age 5 and I colored her bedroom door as far up as I could reach. When I showed her my artwork, she quickly went out and purchased more paper for me. :)

nick Ovenden

Alan Fletcher is THE MAN

John-Henry Barac

my design heroes of the moment are Charles (and Ray) Eames. Great detail, playfulness and use of materials.

Less is More

My art teachers.. Without whom I would have no idea about design, and it's designers.

Hamish Jones

Since discovering Van Doesberg's work I see his influence in many places; buildings, clothes, film, all forms of artistic design and also in machinery. The key element being the consitancy of excellence his innovation has borne.

Dark Entries

Jonathan Barnbrook is the hero!


Alan Fletcher!! Hes the only designer that probably understands me lol